Marble vs Quartz: The Great Countertop Debate

Should you choose marble, quartz or granite in the kitchen? The great countertop debate begins right here! Put on your scientific researcher hat as well, because some of these natural stone facts may take you back to geology class.This post will give you insight on the components of the different types of stone. It will also help you understand the pros and cons of the various options such as: marble, dolomite, granite, quartzite, and (man-made) quartz.

Also, and probably most importantly (!) I’m sharing designer feedback on the different countertop materials and what you can really expect in terms of performance, water stains, scratching, heat resistance and more. A few of my favorite kitchen designers from around the country weighed-in with their opinions.

Bria Hammel, of Bria Hammel Interiors in MN says, “I always tell clients if they want a perfect looking countertop then marble is not for them. Marble lasts forever, but it is not meant to look perfect – it’s meant to look lived in like it’s been around 100 years. If that is not their style, then marble is not for them!”

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A Bria Hammel Interiors kitchen with Cambria Quartz countertops.

All About Marble: 
  • Marble is a metamorphic rock composed of recrystallized carbonate minerals, most commonly calcite or dolomite.
  • Marble is found all around the world but today four countries quarry almost half of the world’s materials. They are: Italy, China, India and Spain.
  • Marble ranges in price, but is generally more expensive than granite or quartz. It is comparable in price to most quartzite.
  • Marble needs to be sealed and taken care of correctly. It will react with acidic foods, absorb water stains, scratch, etc. It is recommended that you seal every few years, use cutting boards, coasters and wipe up spills immediately to keep marble pristine.
  • In my opinion, marble is absolutely stunning and gives a depth and character to an interior that other stone is hard pressed to compete with.

All About Dolomite:

  • Dolomite is a marble, but with the added mineral magnesium.
  • Dolomites are harder than the average marble, but are still softer than granite and can etch and scratch.
  • They are heat and pressure resistant and make great countertops, but need to be sealed to help prevent staining.
  • Super White Dolomite is a popular option for countertops and backsplashes. I love the look of Milano Venato Dolomite.
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Milano Venato Dolomite

Texas-based designer, Carla Aston, another fabulous kitchen designer says this about natural stone, “Natural stone is natural stone and no matter how dense, does absorb moisture to a degree. The lighter the countertops, the more likely this might show as well. I have one project where I used a light gray/white quartzite, and some oily/moist foods left on the counter do occasionally leave a mark. It usually disappears after a time, but nothing is totally impervious!” Don’t miss Carla’s insightful and educational blog post about natural stone countertops in the kitchen.

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Kitchen by Carla Aston Design Studio. Countertops are Macabus Quartzite.

All About Quartzite: 

  • Not to be confused with man-made QUARTZ, quartzite is hard, non-foliated metamorphic rock found in nature.
  • Quartzite is formed when quartz-rich sandstone is exposed to high temperatures and pressures.
  • The term “quartzite” can be used loosely in the stone industry, scientists use the term to describe rocks that are metamorphic and composed almost entirely of quartz. This makes quartzite even tougher than granite and ideal for countertops,
  • Natural quartzite is resistant to water absorption, heat and scratches.

All About Granite:

  • Granite is a very hard crystalline, igneous rock consisting mainly of quartz, mica and feldspar. It’s valued for its durability and unique one-of-a-kind options.
  • Granite is formed within the Earth’s crust and as it’s cooling forms the large crystals that are visible to the eye. Since granite can withstand so much force, it’s difficult to chip or break, and is very popular with homeowners for its durability.
  • The look of granite has become less popular in the past several years, but I personally think honed and leathered granites are making a big comeback as people are trying darker countertops in the kitchen again. The honed or leathered finish makes the granite appear more like soapstone, which is a lovely look.
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Black honed granite.

What to do!? Marble or quartz in kitchen? Or granite or quartzite? This article from MSI Surfaces gives more information on price comparisons between materials. In my own design practice, I find most families love the look and functionality of man-made quartz for countertops, especially families with young children. Personally, imperfections don’t typically bother me so I’m more drawn to natural stone when it’s the right fit for the client or project. You can also find other places to use natural stone like fireplace facades or coffee table tops, etc. to bring that old world element into your home.

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Centered by Design kitchen with Caesarstone London Grey Quartz and walnut butcher block.

I hope this post gives more insight on kitchen countertop options. Please post your thoughts or experiences with stone below and share your knowledge and feedback!

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